Sherbini seeks to use her DPSS and MPP skills to address the digital divide and the digitization of public benefits and financial resources.
Headshot of Danya Sherbini
Danya Sherbini

“I’ve taken many twists and turns in my career,” said Danya Sherbini, DPSS’21 and MPP Class of 2024, “but I think it’s all led me to policy. I don’t think it’s ever too late to pursue an MPP if you are passionate about creating change.”

Originally from the northern Chicago suburb of Grayslake, IL, Sherbini received her bachelor’s in history and creative writing from Northwestern University in 2014. After graduating, she began working as an Associate at One Acre Fund, a social enterprise that supplies smallholder farmers in East Africa with microfinancing and agricultural training.

After two years with One Acre Fund in New York, Sherbini transitioned into a Senior Program Associate role and moved to Kenya.

“Moving to Kenya has been the most formative experience of my life, and I was able to help grow the program significantly,” she said. “Originally, we were reaching 180,000 farmers across Kenya. By improving marketing materials, enrollment tracking, and sales training, I was able to help us reach 400,000 farmers in two years.”

Although she was passionate about the organization’s mission, Sherbini wanted to shift her attention to macro-level change in the United States, particularly within the realm of technology. “Seeing the huge policy changes that resulted from the 2016 election while I was in Kenya prompted me to want to focus more on domestic issues. I started getting interested in technology policy, specifically how it relates to disinformation and data privacy.”

In 2019, Sherbini started work as a Program Manager at BUILT BY GIRLS, an online community that provides women and nonbinary individuals with resources and guidance to take on careers in technology.

After just nine months, Sherbini was promoted to Manager of B2B marketing for Yahoo, the company that oversaw BUILT BY GIRLS. “In this role, I lead marketing strategies for advertising solutions, craft product messaging, and track program performance on our campaigns. I’ve also been able to learn a lot about tech policy and how it relates to data privacy in advertising.”

Sherbini said her brushes with policy and data as they related to technology firmed up her interest in pursuing an MPP. “I decided to apply to the Data and Policy Summer Scholar (DPSS) program in order to get an idea of what a full MPP degree would entail, and I can’t speak highly enough about the DPSS program. It was very holistic, and as someone who had never coded before, it was a fantastic introduction to data analysis.” Sherbini also completed the seven-week program while simultaneously working her full-time job. “The DPSS faculty and staff did a great job setting aside multiple times for office hours. And everyone in the program was open and approachable. We would often get together over Zoom for coffee chats and to help each other with the material.”

Sherbini is excited to continue honing her quantitative skills in the MPP program. “I’m hoping to learn how data can be utilized to address issues like the digital divide, as well as the digitization of public benefits and financial resources. I’m also really excited to surround myself with a community that is mission-driven. Based on my DPSS experience alone, I can tell Harris is a place where people are passionate about policy issues and making an impact in the world.”